October Baseball: Five Reasons That May Have Fans Believing
The Post Season is 81 days away, but who is counting? For the first time since 2010 the New York Mets are above .500 to start the second half of the season and will be tested immediately tonight in Atlanta.
The Mets are believers, at 46-40 the Mets are a half game behind the Reds and Braves in the Wild Card.
“We like our chances, on October 3rd we’ll feel good with whatever happens.” said Terry Collins.
Sitting within earshot of the teams first post season appearance since 2006 the Mets are confident that they can really win this marathon.
And here’s why
1. New Regime
For the first time since 2010 the New York Mets are “in the hunt” to start the second half of the season. However, in 2012, their in an extra playoff spot up for grabs. One noticeable difference is the mentality between former manager Jerry Manuel and current skipper Terry Collins. The Manuel approach would consist of staying afloat while the stars found their bats. Collins has a very young team believing that any team can be beat and they have. The Mets are beating teams that they’re expected to have trouble with.
Unlike the 2010 squad, the Mets have an entirely different team. The 2010 squad was smeared with remnants of players from the worst collapses in 2007 and 2008. Negative clubhouse players are gone and it seems as if the team has loosened up. A much younger group who isn’t clouded with the burden of those collapses, hasn’t quite experienced the high pressure come a pennant race. With that said, the Mets have playoff experience from sources outside of Wright (2006) and Johan Santana (2002-2004, 2006) the Mets have key bench players who have been to the World Series recently in Omar Quintanilla (2007 Rockies) and Andres Torres (2010).
3. Division Play
The Mets can control their own destiny with the team playing both the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals twelve more times to round out the season. The Mets are 18-12 in contests against divisional opponents. With a 4-2 road trip in both Atlanta and Washington, the Mets will be within striking distance of first place when the team comes home to welcome the Dodgers and Nationals. Playoff teams will have to win games and scoreboard watch, but we can. Assuming that Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg will be shut down when he reaches his 160 innings pitched limit, the Nats might get ten starts from the flame-thrower (Projected six innings per start). Will Jayson Werth come back and contribute? and how will Bryce Harper respond when he slumps? As great as the National League’s best team has been, there are still a lot of question marks down in the nation’s capital. In terms of Atlanta, it’s highly unlikely the Braves will be able to shake off the filth of last September’s collapse. Having seen this type of ordeal from the 2007-08 Mets teams, it can be difficult for the Braves to pick themselves up again and again after disappointing playoff (2010) and non-playoff (2011) appearances.
4. Unstable Wildcard
It’s the reason the fourth and fifth spots in the playoffs are called “Wild Cards”; anything can happen. The main Wild Card will be the Pittsburgh Pirates. Will Pittsburgh see it’s first baseball postseason in twenty years? Can Andrew McCutchen keep things up? For a team that had it’s fan base believing last year, it is still tough to consider the Pirates a contender when they haven’t had an above .500 season since Barry Bond patrolled left field in Three Rivers Stadium. In a division that contains the defending World Champion St. Louis Cardinals and MVP candidate Joey Votto, it will be tough for McCutchen to keep his pace of scoring 65% of the teams runs throughout the dog days.
Another team is the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Dodgers will be getting offensive help back in their lineup when all star Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier will return to the lineup. However, outside of Kershaw, will the Dodgers pitching staff remain in tact. For a team that is 18-15 against divisional opponents, the only way that the Dodgers can make the postseason will be through the division assuming the Reds or Cardinals take one spot and the Mets steal the other spot to round out the Wild Card.
5. Never Say Die Attitude
All season the Mets have never counted themselves out of a game, the latest result was a 6-5 victory when the Mets were down to their final strike twice and managed to escape the jaws of defeat by pushing two runs across the plate to defeat the Philadelphia Phillies. Quite Frankly, this team has never failed before. One of the staple points for this team has been their resiliency after crushing defeats this season.
The biggest road trip of the Collins/Alderson era will begin tonight when Chris Young takes the mound against the Braves. A season that hasn’t been a vintage New York Mets playoff season, but nothing about this team is vintage and that is why fans gravitate to this team in it’s pursuit of a playoff berth.
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